Learning good time management tips is essential in tech—whether you’re just starting out and trying to find the best time to study, or searching for how to increase productivity in your job or projects.
Pauline Narvas describes herself as a passionate “multi-hyphenate” – a person with a hyphenated profession. She is a self-taught developer, a speaker, and a community builder, who currently works as a remote developer and in DevOps with the EE brand of British Telecom. With all of these commitments, Pauline has to know how to prioritize!
Today, she’s on the podcast to share her time management strategies and system for productivity. Listen to the episode below.
6 Tech Time Management Strategies
Here are a few of Pauline’s main time management techniques to get her through the day.
1. Decide to take control of your time
First things first! “One of my favorite topics to talk about, I have to say, is a mindset shift,” says Pauline. “You have to be in that mindset to take control of your time. What helped me with that was sitting down and being like, I have 24 hours in the day. I need to take control of my time. So it is a mindset shift and a decision you have to make, that you want to prioritize that time instead of wasting it on something else.”
2. Learn how to prioritize
Understanding how to prioritize is a skill in itself. Pauline’s system goes first by how time-sensitive something is, and second by difficulty. “The first thing I look at is deadlines,” she explains. “So if a particular project needs to be delivered by a certain date, then obviously, that's the top priority. But if there's no deadlines or the deadlines are more like a long-term thing, I usually make sure that I prioritize the harder tasks first, that require a bit more thought, a bit more energy. And then the low priority ones are ones that don't use my energy as quickly.”
3. Identify when you’re most productive
Once you’ve sorted out your priority list, it helps to know when you’ll be most effective at accomplishing those most important tasks. “Prioritizing and understanding yourself really helps—having that self-awareness that ‘this is when I'm most productive,’ ‘this is when this is when I'm not that productive,’ and ‘this is when I need to take a break.’ I mostly do all of my really important tasks in the morning, because I'm much more productive in the morning.”
4. Use your calendar
It’s hard to beat a calendar for great time management. Digital calendar tools (or even physical ones!) allow you to identify exactly what you want to accomplish with your day.
“My final year at university, I was writing long dissertations, I was studying, I was doing community work, I was doing tech talks, I had two part-time jobs—and my calendar really helped. So what I usually do is on a Sunday, I sit down, and I pull up my Google Calendar, and I plan out some time for all the things I need to do that week. When I was a student, I blocked out each every single activity, even time for lunch. And after you try it for a week, just blocking out your time and sticking with it, you eventually get into that routine and flow. And it just helps. It just works.”
That said, scheduling every part of your day might work better for some people than others. “Don't have it so that it stresses you out because that's not the point of it,” she said. “It's meant to make things easier. You can give yourself flexibility during the day.”
5. Listen to focus music
“Another thing that has helped me manage my time is having focus music,” Pauline says. “So I always have focus music in the afternoon, because in the afternoon I'm starting to get a bit less productive and a bit more sleepy. But having focus music helps for me. Right now, I'm using an app called Calm. It's a meditation app, but they have a music section. And it really just helps me focus on a specific task.”
6. Create an inspiring, distraction-free environment
You can know everything there is to know about how to increase productivity, and still not be able to implement that knowledge if you’re in a loud, distracting environment.
“Have a specific spot that helps you focus,” Pauline says. “When you're sat down in a place that is full of distractions, you're never going to get anything done. Even if you've blocked out of time, even if you know your priorities. So make sure that you have a space that really allows you to want to be productive, want to have that mindset of smashing your goals.”
The Importance of Making Time for Self-Care
Learning how to increase productivity doesn’t mean becoming a workaholic. Rather, knowing how to manage your time well extends to your personal life too. Self-care is critical if you want to avoid burning out over time.
For Pauline, that means carving out time for yoga, the gym, and meditation. “I do meditation, mindfulness, and the gym first thing before anything else, because they really set out my day. The endorphins have such a huge impact on me. And yoga, I usually do in the evenings, especially after a very stressful day. It just really soothes you and helps reset the day for tomorrow. Before I did meditation or yoga, I was such a workaholic. Every single second of the day, I was either writing a blog post, studying or planning a talk or whatever. I have suffered from burning out, and it's not a good feeling.”
If you want to get started with meditation or mindfulness, Pauline says, “I recommend using Calm or Headspace they're both fantastic apps to really help you get into that routine.”
Two other parts of self-care are taking breaks and maintaining a social life. “I make sure that I don't plan anything on my Sunday,” she says. “And if a friend invites me somewhere but I have a deadline coming up, I usually look at my calendar and look for any flexibility, and decide from there. Usually, I do make changes during the week depending on these ad-hoc invites. Accept that life happens and it's okay to have flexibility.”
Links and mentions from the episode:
- Interview with Rebecca
- Pauline on Twitter @Paulienuh
- Pauline on Instagram @Paw.line
- Pauline on LinkedIn
Where to listen to the podcast
You can listen to the Learn to Code With Me podcast on the following platforms:
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Special thanks to this episode’s sponsors
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